opinion

Presenting… our USG officers!

Shirts, ballers, and bag tags for sale! That’s the most popular University Student Government activity (USG). This year though, they’ve added a new touch to make their projects more appealing. They decided to use their own faces and bodies as publicity materials.

I had the opportunity to sit on one of the Legislative Assembly’s (LA) weekly sessions. They were debating (more of complaining) about the proposal of revising the Election Code’s provision on the required number of academic units for a student to be qualified to run for office.

The affirmative side argued that it deprives students from serving their fellow Lasallians and the opposition argued that the code can’t be opened for revisions after its recent ratification.

An LA representative confidently argued that a student leader need not have a USG position to serve the students. He was brilliant to me for a while until he continued his piece. He continued that a true leader with the sincerest intentions would have the humility to be discrete about his or her milestones in the USG, which is hypocritical actually.

This LA representative’s face is plastered on the college bulletin board. That was three hopeful seconds that I thought I should not have underestimated our student leaders.

Does being on a tarpaulin equate to good and effective leadership?

“A student government driven by you; driven to take you further…” I can still remember the blue and yellow clad candidates recite that promising slogan.

I had high hopes for the first year of the USG—more student involvement, issue-oriented activities and long-term advocacies. Five months have passed and the candidates who ran in last year’s General Elections were only effective in making me remember their slogan—and their faces.

Our elected student leaders have the opportunity to influence the administration’s decisions regarding the daily operations of the school. They’re our representatives in tuition fee increase meetings, in the enrollment committee and multi-sectoral committee, which has an opinion on matters such as administrative and physical changes in the University.

The Henry Sy Sr. Building is estimated to cost around P1.4 billion and the administration targets to complete the building’s construction by 2014. The current DLSU enrollees will shoulder the costs of construction. Henry Sy Sr. was generous enough to pay for several floors, but we still have to pay for the rest.

What’s the USG doing about the upcoming tuition hike for the payment of something we, even this year’s freshmen, will not be able utilize? I think our leaders got lost in the grandeur of the building’s floor plan that they forgot that the 1.4 billion cost will be partly passed on to our parent’s checking accounts.

In other schools, a tuition fee increase will immediately move the students to appeal and fight for the retention of tuition cost. The student councils of the different state universities and colleges didn’t hesitate to go to the streets to express their distraught over the government’s announcement on its subsidy cut.

The new position of Vice President for Externals was established this year to concentrate on activities such as the dormitory accreditation, security and safety of students in DLSU, exchange student programs and advocacies such as the One Million Trees program.

I remembered the office say that they’re going to concentrate on increasing the number of exchange student opportunities, even comparing our program with Ateneo’s Junior Term Abroad, which has too many exchange student offers and not enough applicants.

The office’s first project last term regarding the security and safety information campaign was catchy, but the office stopped at just that. It was only information dissemination. Has the office started working with our own Security and Safety Office regarding the school’s crisis management program? What will the office do if one of our students gets harmed again? The dormitory and safety accreditation hasn’t even started yet.

There are other more important things to do than to brag that your office’s fun run will be using a hi-tech electronic race bib encoder.

One of the professors I know even compared Aimee Chua’s administration with the present one. He said that Chua’s term was efficient in fighting for student welfare.

She fought against the administration’s proposal of moving DLSU’s free day to Mondays. Even her Vice President for Academics Nadia Ong was able to lobby for enrollment reinstatement once a student has made up for his or her failure.

It’s one thing that we express our disappointment on the USG’s performance, but it’s more alarming if a professor, who has been teaching in DLSU for 30 years and has encountered 30 sets of student leaders, finds their performance substandard.

Considering that they all come from the same political party, winning 68 out of the 69 seats in the USG should’ve made their performance been smooth-sailing. The mandate of the students was clearly with them, but they failed to deliver.

While the student governments of the Ateneo and the Premiere State University are busy publishing their balance sheets and minutes of the meeting to exercise transparency, our elected officers are busy being the face of our student government—just the face.